O'Malley may get Democratic challengers
Gadi Dechter is reporting this story, which is running in Thursday's print editions of the Baltimore Sun:
George W. Owings III, a former Democratic delegate and party leader from Calvert County, is “actively considering a challenge” to Gov. Martin O’Malley in next year’s election, the former majority leader told The Baltimore Sun.
The 64-year-old Vietnam war hero from Dunkirk, who served on Republican Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.’s cabinet, said he was “45 to 60 days” away from deciding whether to challenge O’Malley in the 2010 Democratic primary. He acknowledged that the odds of anyone unseating the incumbent governor “are very long.”
Rick Abbruzzese, a spokesman for O’Malley said the governor would not be distracted by election talk. “There will be a lot of speculation in the coming months about who may or may not run for governor,” Abbruzzese said. “In the meantime, Gov. O’Malley will continue to fight for policies that put our families first.”
Matthew P. Crenson, a retired Johns Hopkins University political scientist and long-time observer of Maryland politics, said stirrings of internal dissent show “there is diffuse dissatisfaction with O’Malley” but said the cause could be the dismal economy, not O’Malley policies. “It’s not necessarily O’Malley’s fault,” Crenson said.
After serving in the House of Delegates from 1988 to 2004, Owings was Ehrlich’s secretary of the Maryland Department of Veterans Affairs. A conservative Democrat, Owings said he believes the state party has “strayed from its working class roots” under O’Malley’s leadership.
The former mortgage banker said he began mulling a challenge after the governor pushed unpopular tax hikes through the General Assembly in 2007 in order to confront the massive structural budget deficit he inherited.
“I see a lot of good, solid working-class Democrats with serious concerns about the direction we are taking,” Owings said. He said he has “the mechanics in place” for an organized campaign, including “some guarantees of operating money” from a “loosely knit financing committee.”
Separately, Annapolis has been buzzing with speculation that former Prince George’s County Executive Wayne K. Curry may also be thinking of taking on O’Malley in the primary. Two people familiar with Curry’s thinking told The Baltimore Sun that he was preparing a poll to test the viability of his candidacy, and would only then make a decision.
Curry did not return requests for comment.
“Even if they’re not true, the fact that there are so many rumors suggests that O’Malley is perceived as vulnerable,” Crenson said.